Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
He appeared on two episodes of Sesame Street season 10 as a man
in a rowboat, cameoed as himself in the special Elmopalooza, and presented
the Word of the Day from the set of Law & Order: SVU in season 38.
In 1970, CBS executive Fred Silverman decided
he wanted to try and lure the fans of The Harlem Globetrotters over to
his network by giving them their own show. Harlem Globetrottersbecame
the first series to feature characters based on actual sports stars and a
predominantly African-American cast. It ran for two seasons. That wasn’t the
end of the Globetrotters’ TV career, however, as shortly after CBS gave them
Publicity still of the Globetrotters with Schreiber's Mr. Evil.
Globetrotters Popcorn Machine was a live-action comedy variety show created
by John Aylesworth and Frank
Peppiatt, this time starring the actual Globetrotters: Meadowlark
Lemon, Freddie “Curly” Neal, Marques Haynes, Charles “Tex” Harrison, Hubert
“Geese” Ausbie, Nate Branch, Theodis “Wolfman” Lee, John Smith and Bobby Joe
Mason. While they sometimes wore their signature uniforms, their primary
outfits were matching ones that had their names written on their chests. Episodes
began with Tex calling out to the audience for a letter, which one of the other
Globetrotters would stand and hold up on a card as the audience full of kids
repeated it. The resulting word spelled out would set the theme of the day that
everything centered around, such as “pollute” for pollution and “brother” for
brotherhood. What followed were short skits with the Globetrotters engaging in
various activities or playing characters, quickfire gags, song numbers and, of
course, basketball exhibitions. They would repeat the letters bit at the end,
but always spelling out the phrase “so long”. Joining the Globetrotters every week
was Avery Schreiber as the comical Mr. Evil, the antagonist who would try to hamper
their pro-social message and embodied the antithesis of it, and Rodney Allen
Rippy to add a relatable character for the kids watching. Guest stars would also
appear from time to time, such as Tom Bosley, Jim Backus, Esther Rolle and Teresa Graves.
The Globetrotters performing on their primary stage with Teresa Graves.
hour-long prime-time pilot that aired on December 13, 1972, The Harlem
Globetrotters Popcorn Machine was picked up for Saturday mornings, debuting
on September 7, 1974. It was one of the first series produced for Viacom Productions.
The series’ name was emphasized by the recurring graphic of basketballs
bouncing around in a container reminiscent of a popcorn machine popping. Aylesworth,
serving as the show’s announcer, introduced Rippy, Schreiber and the episode’s
guest star. The Globetrotters themselves would appear on a stage full of
colorful lighted backboards and rims to introduce themselves while “passing”
around a basketball that would have their name on it (these were, of course,
different balls and the passing was done through creative editing). The series
was written by Aylesworth, Peppiatt and Jack Burns, with music by Jack Elliott and Allyn Ferguson.
The Globetrotters' 1975 Yearbook.
The Globetrotters featured information about Popcorn Machine in
their 1975 Yearbook.
Unlike their animated endeavor, Popcorn Machine only lasted for a single
season. It did, however, continue on for an additional season of reruns well
into 1976. Silverman wasn’t quite ready to give up on the Globetrotters’
television careers just yet. In 1979, he brought the team over to NBC with him
in another Hanna-Barbera cartoon: The
Ali is considered one of the most important sports figures of the 20th
Century, as well as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. Born Cassius
Marcellus Clay Jr. until changing his name after converting to Islam in the 1960s, Ali took
up boxing at the age of 12 after being encouraged by Louisville police officer and boxing coach
Joe E. Martin and inspired
by seeing amateur boxers on a local televised program called Tomorrow’s
Ali standing over Sonny Liston.
his amateur boxing debut in 1954, winning against Ronnie
O’Keefe by split decision. He went on to win six Kentucky
Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden
Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union
national title, and the light heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics.
Ali’s amateur recorded ended up being 100 wins with 5 losses. He then went
professional in 1960, taking on the likes of Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson,
Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Chuck Wepner (whose bout
with Ali inspired the creation of the Rocky franchise), Ron Lyle and Joe Bugner. In the early
years of his professional career, Ali adopted the personality of a self-described
“big-mouth and bragger”; engaging in trash-talk with free-style rhyme schemes
and spoken word poetry that often made him regarded as influential in the world
of hip hop music through his quick, confident and smooth deliveries. This was
inspired and encouraged by professional wrestler “Gorgeous George” Wagner
as a means to bring in more people to bouts who either wanted to see him win or
really lose. Of course, they got a lot more of the former with a career
record of 56 wins and 5 losses. His fights were some of the world’s
most-watched television broadcasts, frequently setting viewership records.
Speaking about his draft refusal alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
an icon for the counterculture movement of the 1960s when he refused
to be drafted into the Vietnam
War because of his religious beliefs and personal ethical opposition. Guilty
of draft evasion, he was stripped of his boxing titles and denied a boxing
license in every state. As a result, he didn’t fight from 1967-70 until he was
finally able to get the decision appealed and overturned in 1971. In the
meantime, Ali was touring colleges speaking out against the war and advocating
African-American pride and racial justice (he had grown up during the period of
He also participated in a fictional boxing match with retired champion Rocky Marciano,
which had them sparring for about 75 one-minute rounds with several potential
outcomes; with the winner chosen by a computer. Edited together and released to
theaters in 1970 as The
Super Fight, the American version had Ali losing the fight in a knockout
while Marciano lost in the European version to cuts.
was Ali the actor. He would appear—mostly as himself—in shows like Vega$, Diff’rent Strokes(whose
title was inspired by one of Ali’s sayings), and Touched by an Angel,made a cameo in the 1962 film Requiem for a Heavyweight,
appeared in the 1972 documentary Black Rodeo,and
played himself in the 1977 film The Greatest, which
was adapted from his autobiography. Actual character roles included the titular
lead of the short-lived 1969 Broadway musical Buck Whiteand
former slave and Civil
War soldier Gideon Jackson in the 1978 film Freedom Road. Somewhere
in between all that, it was decided to try and take advantage of Ali’s
popularity with children and create an animated series centered around him.
The animated version of Ali.
Created by Fred Calvert, Kimie Calvert, Janis Diamond and John Paxton and produced through
Films, I Am the Greatest!: The Adventures of Muhammad Ali followed
Ali (voiced by himself) on his trips around the world as he participated in
fights and exhibitions. Along the way, adventure would seem to find him in the
form of saboteurs, poachers, thieves and other forms of trouble that would
plague the locals of wherever he was visiting. Ali, being the man he was,
couldn’t just sit idly by when there was a possibility he could help. Despite
the violent nature of Ali’s well-known occupation, being on Saturday morning meant
the resolutions to the programs leaned more into non-violent solutions.
Situations and mysteries were solved through Ali’s worldly knowledge and with
words, and moments of physicality were generally relegated to minor grappling.
Ali's "entourage": Bad News, Damon, Frank and Nicky.
on his adventures were his niece and nephew, Nicky (Patrice Carmichael) and
Damon (Casey Carmichael), and their dog, Bad News. Additionally, Ali’s
real-life public relations agent and hype man, Frank Bannister, came along for
the ride also voicing himself. While the kids were always deep into the adventures,
Frank was more of a reluctant participant. He was focused on making sure Ali
met his obligations and set up the next one, and was exasperated trying to keep
up when he would run off on an escapade.
Despite Ali’s larger-than-life
presence and popularity, the show failed to generate significant ratings and
was cancelled after a single season of 13 episodes. Reruns would air on El Rey Network, who aired
them in a marathon following the death
of Ali in 2016. To date, the series
ahs never seen an official home media release; although bootlegs are floating
around the internet. The El Rey airings have been preserved as part of the Internet Archive.
EPISODE GUIDE: “The Great Alligator” (9/10/77) – A pair of thieves use
alligator attacks to terrorize a local swamp village.
“The Air Fair Affair” (9/17/77) – A pair of dirty pilots
sabotage their competition in an air race.
“The Littlest Runner” (9/24/77) – Ali and the kids try to
get a runaway to stop living in the woods and return home.
“Ali’s African Adventure” (10/1/77) – While on an African
safari, Ali gets involved in trying to help stop a poaching operation.
“Superstar” (10/8/77) – Ali’s sci-fi movie shoot is
disrupted by the crew’s boat exploding and the giant alien robot seemingly developing
a mind of its own.
“The Haunted Park” (10/15/77) – Ali is participating in the
grand opening of a haunted park in London where people seem to disappear from
the roller coaster after it passes through a tunnel.
“Caught in the Wild” (10/22/77) – A plane malfunction leaves
Ali and his crew stranded in the wilds of the Yukon.
“Volcano Island” (10/29/77) – A storm leaves Ali and his
crew stranded on an island with a crazy hermit and an active volcano about to blow.
“Oasis of the Moon” (11/5/77) – Ali and his crew investigate
the disappearance of an oasis with an archaeologist in Egypt.
“The Great Bluegrass Mountain Race” (11/12/77) – Ali
proposes a race between a locomotive and a truck for a shipping contract.
“The Werewolf of Devil’s Creek” (11/19/77) – Ali investigates
the report of a werewolf scaring people away from a mine in a small town.
“Sissy’s Climb” (11/26/77) – A need for a mountain rescue
allows an exchange student to show women can be just as capable as men on
“Terror in the Deep” (12/3/77) – A sea monster disrupts a
scientific experiment of moving food production to the bottom of the sea.
comedian, producer and writer Damon
Wayans had been working steadily in the 1980s, including a brief stint on Saturday Night Live,
but his breakout moment came as a writer and performer on the sketch comedy
series In Living Colorin 1990.He left the show just two years into its 4-year run to
pursue a movie career; however, he would return to television several times. One
of those times involved the development of an animated series that would take
inspiration from his childhood.
the show known as The Wayneheads was meant to be a Claymation series
airing on FOX; home to In Living Color and
later Wayans’ short-lived sitcom, Damon. It was
announced as preparing to debut in the fall of 1991 in a New
York Times article and was even
mentioned on The Tonight Show
Starring Johnny Carsonwhen Carson listed the upcoming shows for
the new season. However, the show was shelved and retooled over the next few
years into the traditionally animated series it would become.
Promo art featuring Damey Wayne.
as Waynehead, itfollowed the daily life of 10-year-old Damey
“Waynehead” Wayne (Orlando Brown) in downtown New York City. The term
“Waynehead” was a teasing term derived from the fact that because Damey’s
family had so little money, they got their haircuts at home (also an inside
joke between the Wayans siblings about their similar hairstyles). Damey had a
club foot (as did Wayans as a kid), which caused him to struggle to keep up
with his friends at times (climbing fences, for example, was fairly difficult)
and kept him from doing everything they did (such as anything to do with water
to keep his shoe’s brace from rusting). It also made him the prime target for
neighborhood bullies. However, he could give as good as he got with his sharp
wit; especially when someone tried to make fun of his foot. Whenever
faced with a dilemma, Damey’s imagination tended to take over and put him in a
fantasy world that sometimes helped, and other times left him just as stumped
as he began.
Damey plays some rooftop basketball with Mo' Money, Roz, Marvin and Toof.
With Damey often was his crew:
Marvin (Tico Wells), Damey’s best friend who tended to tell tall tales; Mo’
Money (Jamal Walker Smith), who was always eager to scam someone out of
money—even his friends; Roz (T’Keya Crystal Keymáh), the only girl and most
athletic of the group; and Toof (Shawn Wayans), a dimwit with a single tooth and an extreme love for all things candy. Other characters included Damey’s pregnant
mother (Kim Wayans) and hard-working father (John Witherspoon, who was also
starring in his brothers’ show, The Wayans Bros.),
his older brother, Kevin (Gary Coleman) and bratty little sister, Shavonne
(Keymáh); Marvin’s big, burly brother, Blue (Marlon Wayans); Damey’s
neighbor from Africa, Aki (Keymáh), who sometimes hung out with the gang and
was considered nerdy because of his lack of understand of American culture; a
friendly three-legged stray dog named Tripod (Frank Welker); and a group of
older bullies that attended St. Mary’s Catholic school. Additional members of
the citizenry, as well as various locations around New York City, were shown in
a series of three snapshots during breaks in the story.
Damey getting some bad news from the doctor about his foot with his mother.
Unfortunately, the series only
lasted a single season of 13 episodes before it was cancelled. While the
network said it was because
of low ratings that never improved, Wayans claimed in TV Guidethat he was told it
wasn’t “black enough, or funny enough.” Despite the short run, the series’
short run, it found a second life on Cartoon
Network from 1998 until 2000 and was broadcast around the world. It also
received an homage in the Pinky
and the Brain episode “Dangerous Brains”; with Pinky adopting the alias
“Jergen Pinkhead” and a parody of the show’s theme playing during his entrance.
Waynehead wouldn’t receive any kind of official home media release until
April 20, 2001; when it was made available to purchase digitally on iTunes,
Video and Vudu
nearly 25 years after its debut.
EPISODE GUIDE: “Demon of the Dozens” (10/19/96) – Damey looks for dirt he
can use in his insult battle with the school bully.
“No Mo’ Money” (10/26/96) – The gang tries to earn money so
they can go to the Harlem Week festival and Mo’ Money tries to scam their way
into even more.
“Brothers and Bros.” (11/2/96) – Tired of his brother
getting all of his family’s respect, Damey decides to sneak out and watch a
fight with his friends.
“Bostawana Aki and the Hydrant of Doom” (11/9/96) – Damey
wants to get canned goods for free admission into a concert, but he’s forced to
hang out with the nerdy new kid.
“3 Hats and You’re Out” (11/16/96) – Damey’s gang becomes
cool when his cousin starts hanging with them, but choices must be made when he
demands one of their own be cut out.
“Dad’s a Spaz” (11/23/96) – Damey asks his father to coach
his gang for an upcoming basketball game only to discover he’s lousy at the
“Be Mine...Or Else” (12/31/96) – Roz becomes smitten with
Damey when he accidentally saves her from junkyard dogs.
“To Be Cool or Not to Be” (2/1/97) – Damey has a role in an
opera—something he’s desperate to keep from his friends.
“Special Delivery” (2/15/97) – Damey and his gang must get
his mother to the hospital when she goes into labor.
“Quest for Fireworks” (4/19/97) – When rumors spread after
the gang believes Toof stood up to the cops, everyone believes Toof has become
their hookup for illegal fireworks.
“A Friend in Greed” (4/26/97) – The decision on what to
spend their money on is taken out of the gang’s hands when Marvin steals it and
buys himself and Waynhead what they wanted.
“Bummed Out” (5/3/97) – A homeless DJ plays on Damey’s guilt
over a prank his gang pulled just before he was fired.
“Rebel Without a Paw” (5/17/97) – Damey tries to find tripod
a new home but it proves difficult because of his missing leg.